Gutsy squad effort takes Wasps back to second in table

On a chilly afternoon at Sixways, an injury-ravaged Wasps side produced a display of enormous character to secure a win which takes them back to second place in the Premiership, a point behind Saracens.

12 - 26
Worcester Warriors Wasps

Sun 4th December 2016
3:00 pm

Sixways Stadium Stadium Aviva Premiership As it happened

Tries from Brendan Macken, in the first minute, and by Dan Robson early in the second half, were backed up by 16 points from the boot of Rob Miller, standing in at fly half after injuries to Gopperth and Cipriani. A magnificent defensive effort kept Worcester tryless, and Wasps thoroughly deserved their victory.

With their back-line already disrupted by injury and suspension, Wasps suffered another blow before the game, when Danny Cipriani was ruled out by a calf strain. Rob Miller moved up to fly half, with Piers O’Conor coming in at full-back for his Wasps debut. Connor Eastgate was added to the replacements.

Wasps went ahead after barely a minute, when Brendan Macken intercepted a pass in midfield and ran in from near halfway. Rob Miller landed the conversion from in front of the posts. Almost immediately, Wasps were penalised at a breakdown on their 22 and Jamie Shilcock was on target, from just to the right of the posts.

After Wasps went through a series of well-controlled phases, they won a breakdown penalty just outside the 22, almost in the middle of the field. Rob Miller’s second successful kick took the score to 10-3, with eight minutes played.

Four minutes later, Wasps were penalised at a wheeling scrum on their 22. From directly in front of the posts, Shillcock narrowed the gap to four points.

Wasps then stole a lineout on the Worcester 22 and Frank Halai came off his wing to make good ground in midfield. Several phases later Josh Bassett was bundled into touch, a few metres out. The lineout was again stolen and Wasps’ pressure led to a penalty near the right corner. They went for touch and the following drive almost produced a try, before the home side won a penalty and cleared to halfway.

A rampaging run by Bryce Heem provided the platform for a period of sustained Worcester pressure, which stretched the Wasps defence before a penalty was conceded near the line. Shilcock made it three out of three to narrow the gap to a single point, with 16 minutes of the half to play. The lead was almost surrendered from the restart, when Cooper Vuna broke clear down the left.  He made 50 metres, before passing infield and the move ended with a knock-on, just inside the Wasps 22.

Wasps won a penalty at the scrum and the lineout on halfway set up an excellent Wasps attack, in which Alex Rieder put in a powerful charge down the right. A penalty was won and Rob Miller added the three points. A minute later Worcester were penalised as they tried to run out of defence. Miller was again on target, from nearly 40 metres, to take Wasps into a 7-point lead, after 32 minutes.

The series of penalties continued when Wasps offended at the breakdown, on their 10-metre line. Shillcock kept up his 100% record with an excellent kick to make the score 16-12. Four minutes before the break, Wasps attacked to the left from a scrum in midfield. Piers O’Conor joined the move to send Josh Bassett away. The defence forced him infield, but Wasps kept control of possession and were eventually rewarded with another penalty. Rob Miller made no mistake to take the lead to 19-12.

In the final minute of the half, Alex Rieder’s storming charge out of defence took play over halfway. Ashley Johnson sent a kick into the wide open spaces, but Chris Pennell arrived just ahead of Josh Bassett to scoop up the ball and the clearance to touch ended an absorbing, if unspectacular first half.

Wasps made a promising start to the second half when they won Rob Miller’s restart. Ashley Johnson moved the ball back infield and Dan Robson combined with Piers O’Conor, who showed some impressive footwork, to take play deep into the 22, before possession was lost.

Five minutes into the second half, Wasps added a second try with Dan Robson finishing a move he’d started in midfield. The ball was moved out to Frank Halai who had the strength to stay infield and commit several defenders on the 22. When the ball emerged, Robson went through a gap to outstrip the defence and go over by the posts. Rob Miller’s conversion took Wasps fourteen points clear, at 26-12.

Phil Swainston replaced Marty Moore, before Chris Pennell combined well with Cooper Vuna to take play deep into the Wasps 22. Another slick piece of play saw Pennell appear on the left wing, but  Dan Robson pulled off a try-saving tackle a few metres from the line. After a Wasps throw-in to the lineout was ruled not straight, Worcester won a scrum penalty, but Shillcock pulled his kick wide to the right for his first miss of the afternoon.

Dan Robson then produced an outstanding piece of skill, with an extraordinary behind-the-back offload, after a lightning burst out of defence down the left wing.

A second Wasps replacement brought Guy Thompson on for Tommy Taylor, with Ashley Johnson moving up to hooker. With the game entering the final quarter, another dangerous run by Vuna set up an excellent opportunity for Worcester. He cut infield to feed Connor Braid, who was stopped just short. The ball was recycled out to the right and Alafoti Fa'osiliva went over, but the final pass had gone forwards. Wasps won a penalty at the ensuing scrum and cleared to the 10-metre line.

The home side again came close with a flowing passage of play which created an overlap on the right, but the final pass flew into touch.

With fourteen minutes left, Dan Robson and Kearnan Myall made way for Joe Simpson and Will Rowlands. Worcester were now dominating possession, but wave after wave of attack failed to find a hole in the tenacious Wasps defence. A penalty gave them an opportunity near the right corner, but a long lineout throw went astray and was skilfully gathered by Ashley Johnson to give Simpson the chance to clear.

Worcester  continued to press, but the defence held firm, and  Wasps could celebrate their eighth win of the Premiership season, ahead of the crucial back-to-back European clashes with Connacht.

Worcester Warriors Line ups

  1. Val Rapava-Ruskin
  2. Jaba Bregvadze
  3. Nick Schonert
  4. Donncha O'Callaghan
  5. Darren Barry
  6. Dewald Potgieter
  7. Sam Lewis
  8. Alafoti Faosilivia
  9. Jonny Arr
  10. Jamie Shillcock
  11. Cooper Vuna
  12. Jackson Willison
  13. Wynand Olivier
  14. Bryce Heem
  15. Chris Pennell
  16. Jack Singleton
  17. Naama Leleimalefaga
  18. James Johnston
  19. Andrew Kitchener
  20. Phil Dowson
  21. Michael Dowsett
  22. Connor Braid
  23. Josh Adams

Wasps Line ups

  1. Matt Mullan
  2. Tommy Taylor
  3. Martin Moore
  4. James Gaskell
  5. Kearnan Myall
  6. Ashley Johnson
  7. Thomas Young
  8. Alex Rieder
  9. Dan Robson
  10. Rob Miller
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Alapati Leiua
  13. Brendan Macken
  14. Frank Halai
  15. Piers O'Conor
  16. Jack Willis
  17. Ben Harris
  18. Phil Swainston
  19. Will Rowlands
  20. Guy Thompson
  21. Joe Simpson
  22. Guy Armitage
  23. Connor Eastgate